Updated: Tour de France teams' syringes under investigation

French media point finger at Astana but they refute all claims

by Tony Farrelly   October 13, 2009  

Syringe

French prosecutors have opened a preliminary investigation to examine syringes belonging to teams at this year's Tour de France. The Public Prosecutor in Paris opened the case after a number of suspicious syringes were discovered in containers given by Tour organisers to all the teams in order to collect their medical waste.

According to L'Equipe the focus of the investigation is on syringes found in the Astana team's medical waste, although Astana strenuously deny the allegation. In a statement issued on Tuesday the team said: 

"Astana Cycling Team has nothing to hide, (its) riders use no forbidden substances, the team is confident in the result of analyses performed or to be performed by a Parisian laboratory and is prepared to cooperate."

Despite L'Equipe's claim the public prosecutor has not specified that any one team is the focus of their investigation. A spokewoman simply confirmed that a preliminary investigation was taking place and that experts were trying to determine whether it would be possible to get samples of illegal substances and DNA which could be linked to a rider.

There is as yet no explanation of why it took officials until now to become suspicious and if Astana are the centre of the investigation why attention was drawn to their medical waste rather than that from other teams competing in the race.

Nor, despite repeated media requests, has their been any comment from the lab which is said to be running the tests. There is also the rather obvious question of why a team with something to hide would give syringes to race organisers in the full knowledge that they were likely to be tested. The lab in question, Toxlab, is is not one normally used in anti-doping cases but specialises in forensic investigations.

Astana had two riders on the podium at this year's Tour, the winner, Alberto Contador, and Lance Armstrong who came third, both will be in Paris tomorrow for the launch of the 2010 Tour route, the latter representing his new Radioshack team. Armstrong responded to the allegations with on Twitter with "SSDD" – Same Shit Different Day before inviting cyclists in Miami to join him for a ride.

Last week the French Anti Doping Agency (AFLD) revealed that it had found drugs for high blood pressure and diabetes amongst some of the teams possessions which while not banned were unusual as part of the medical regimes of supposedly fit athletes. AFLD boss Pierre Bordry also said that in his opinion riders had been using two new drugs, a third generation EPO – Hematide, and another drug called Aicur at this year's race. The AFLD also accused cycling's governing body, the UCI of showing favouritism to Astana when it came to drug testing at the race.

 

4 user comments

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Surely the continuity of this evidence will not be provable? Unlike blood and urine samples from the riders, or forensic evidence from the scene of a crime, it will not have been collected under controlled conditions. Astana (or any of the other teams) will be able to say "That's not our waste" or "Someone has added that syringe to our waste".

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1355 posts]
13th October 2009 - 18:37

1 Like

hmm but what if there are fingerprints on the syringes or indeed dried blood on the needles that might well identify a user

Denzil Dexter's picture

posted by Denzil Dexter [140 posts]
13th October 2009 - 22:07

1 Like

it's all going a bit CSI round here...

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7433 posts]
13th October 2009 - 22:50

2 Likes

CSI Paris… got a ring to it

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4147 posts]
13th October 2009 - 23:53

1 Like